Clinton in Dewitt County, Illinois — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
Lincoln at Work and Play
You Can't Fool the People
óLooking for Lincoln ó
DeWitt County was part of the Eighth Judicial Circuit from its beginning, and so was Abraham Lincoln, who attended the first session of DeWitt Circuit Court in Clinton on October 24, 1839. Court sessions were held each spring and fall. For the locals, court week was like a carnival, and people came from miles around to pack the court and participate in the accompanying social activities. For twenty years, Lincoln was a part of the Clinton community, practicing law by day, afterwards sleeping in its homes and inns, finding fun and friendship among the common people when court work was done. Those years helped form the man who became one of our greatest Presidents.
Lincoln always welcomed an opportunity to match his great strength (mental or physical) against others. In the evenings, one of the favorite pastimes of the lawyers - and men who came to court week - was vying with each other in jumping long distances on the courthouse lawn. Lincoln, with his long legs, was invariably the winner, that is, until he lost to Henry Mann. Mann may have known Lincoln before coming to Clinton, as his company in the Black Hawk War was part of the regiment Lincoln commanded. According to Mannís obituary, he was “of mixed blood, part Indiana and part
Beginning with his first competition, “Uncle Henry” was declared champion after leaving Lincoln far behind. Mann could lift heavier loads than anyone in the county even in his later years. Born in 1804 in Buffalo, New York, he was five years older than Lincoln, “a man of fair education,” able to quote any passage from the Bible. Mann, “an exhorter, first in the Methodist and later in the Baptist Church,” now rests in Woodlawn Cemetery.
Although he had no law partner on the circuit, Lincoln worked more cases with Clintonís resident lawyer, C. H. Moore, than any other lawyer, and he also argued more cases against Moore than any other. Lincoln worked both civil and criminal cases here, ranging from murder to numerous railroad cases. Occasionally Lincoln served as judge. Pictured is Clintonís second courthouse, built in 1850.
Lincoln learned the game of billiards from Clintonís Thompson S. Smith. The October 5, 1859, “Central Transcript” stated: “Old Abe handled his first cue in Smithís billiard room - here in Clinton - and he is now quite a respectable player. We think that this event - as a tradition - ought to surely entitle our village to immortality in the pages of future history.” Lincoln became a self-confessed
In the summer of 1858, Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas began the campaign dance for the Senate seat from Illinois that was to lead to the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. The Republicansí initial strategy called for Lincoln to follow Douglas around Illinois, with each candidate addressing the crowds individually. Lincoln, the lesser-known of the two, in a brilliant political maneuver, formally challenged Douglas to a series of debates in a letter sent from Chicago on July 24. Douglas had not yet received the letter when he came to Clinton to speak at a rally here on July 27, 1858.
Posters all over DeWitt County announced that Douglas would arrive on the morning train. A small group was present when the 5:00 A.M. train pulled in without Douglas. A group of two or three hundred persons (two-thirds of them Republicans, a local paper noted), along with a band ready to play and with a flag to unfurl, met the 7:00 A. M. Train. However, Lincoln, not Douglas, emerged to great cheering.
Lincoln lingered on, working the growing crowd as they waited for Douglasís appearance, which did not come until 4:00 P.M. Douglas, without even acknowledging the crowd, went straight to a waiting carriage
Lincoln and Douglas met the next day and agreed to the series of debates.
“You can fool all the people some of the time and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.” To confirm or deny Lincolnís utterance of the epigram, the Chicago Record Herald, dated January 12, 1905, published results of their inquiry from Lincolnís contemporaries.
Although none of them, by then aged, could certify its origin, a letter from Lewis Campbell, a prominent Clinton citizen who procured a box from his dry goods store for Lincoln to stand upon while delivering that 1858speech, was published in the February 17, 1905 issue of The Clinton Register. It expressed Campbellís clear memories of Lincolnís speech including the now famous phrase. Campbell wrote, “Though nearly half a century has passed, these acts and sayings are indelibly fixed upon my memory.”
Erected 2008 by
Marker series. This marker is included in the Looking for Lincoln marker series.
Location. 40° 9.165′ N, 88° 57.623′ W. Marker is in Clinton, Illinois, in Dewitt County. Marker is at the intersection of East Lincoln Square and East Main Street, on the left when traveling north on East Lincoln Square. Touch for map. located on the East side of Lincoln Square. Marker is in this post office area: Clinton IL 61727, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Abraham Lincoln - Eighth Judicial District (within shouting distance of this marker); “You can fool all the people part of the time . . .” (within shouting distance of this marker); DeWitt County War Memorial (within shouting distance of this marker); Lincoln's Friends and Foes (within shouting distance of this marker); Humorous Moments (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Lincoln and The Law (about 400 feet away); Warner's Memories / Lawyers and Book Lovers (approx. 0.2 miles away); Lincoln's Hat (approx. 0.2 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Clinton.
Also see . . .
1. Travel with Lincoln ::. Climb into Lincolnís buggy and take a trip with Lincoln and his fellow lawyers on the (Submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
2. Looking for Lincoln Video - on P. B. S. Follow Henry Louis Gates, Jr. "...from Illinois, to Gettysburg, to Washington, D. C., and face to face with people who live with Lincoln every day..." (Submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
3. Looking for Lincoln::. Many resources for the Tracking of Lincoln through History and Illinois. Aimed at all ages. (Submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana.)
Categories. • Notable Persons •
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. This page has been viewed 1,615 times since then and 17 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. submitted on November 10, 2009, by Al Wolf of Veedersburg, Indiana. • Syd Whittle was the editor who published this page.